Divorcing Texas couples may be able to settle all or many of their issues using mediation rather than litigation. Mediation can definitely be cheaper and faster, but it is by no means appropriate for all couples in every situation.
If you plan to divorce, mediation can be a viable option. But before initiating any proceedings, it's important to take an honest look at the situation between you and your spouse.
When mediation might work
Are you and your spouse still able to be civil with one another, despite your differences? Are both of you reasonable people? Do you have common goals for the divorce?
If you answered "yes" to the above questions, it's likely that you will be able to reach accord on many of your issues through mediation or collaborative divorce. By not litigating every matter in the Texas family law courts, you both will be able to save money.
It's also probable that you can conclude aspects of the divorce much faster via mediation than you would by litigation. Instead of waiting months for hearing dates, you simply hash out matters with your attorneys and the mediator and submit the petition to the court to be signed by a judge.
Even if you are unable to settle all of your differences in mediation, the process still can be useful to eliminate many bones of contention. The real sticklers can still be litigated later if total resolution proves to be elusive.
When mediation is unlikely to be useful
The structured process of mediation only works when both parties are committed to resolving their differences out of court. If one spouse is averse to splitting up and wants to stay married, that person is unlikely to work meaningfully toward a divorce.
Also, if there have been instances of spousal abuse — and it does not necessarily have to be physical — mediation is not recommended. The abusive spouse may try to browbeat or otherwise coerce the victimized spouse into agreeing to terms that are not in the abused spouse's best interests.
In fact, particularly acrimonious divorces generally will not successfully resolve via mediation. If the spouses are more interested in slinging barbs and arrows at one another, neither is likely to compromise on key issues. It's these cases where having aggressive legal counsel to advocate for both spouses is preferable.
This minimizes the defensiveness and friction that are normally present during spousal settlement conversations. It does this by creating a non-confrontational atmosphere that encourages the spouses to put their best foot forward when they are presenting their thoughts and concerns to one another.
What you should know when you mediate
Mediation doesn't eliminate the need for the parties to have legal counsel. The mediator may or may not also be an attorney. Regardless, both spouses still should retain individual counsel to ensure that their interests are fully protected.
Mediators are not judges. Think of them more as navigators guiding the spouses through the stormy seas of divorce proceedings.
Could mediation resolve the issues of your pending divorce? In many cases, it may be a process worth initiating.